The moment has finally arrived – Rob and I are in Borneo. When I first wrote the word Borneo on our travel itinerary waaay back last November, a little shiver ran up my spine. I’d heard of Borneo, in the way I’d heard of Pangaea and Middle Earth – exotic and very far away in time and space. It was not a place I ever imagined going myself.
I’m happy to report that during our last days in Sri Lanka, we managed to find more durian. It was still straggling in from Gampala City and around the Kandy district. This durian was really, really good. The white flesh was so thick and sticky it was almost hard to swallow, with a rich coffee aftertaste. After two weeks sans durian (oh, the horror!) Rob and I went a little crazy and ate durian for three meals in a row. Whoa, I know! We are definitely putting Sri Lanka on our list of top durian locations to visit again. I’ve put up a photo overview of our durian days in Sri Lanka on our Facebook Page. So long Sri Lanka, you’ve been good to us.
After a very long day in Singapore, during which we did finally visit the famous Durian Building (I’ll be posting about it soon), we touched down in Kota Kinabalu at midnight. Luckily, our accommodations for the night were only a 10 minute walk away. The Borneo BeacHouse is quiet, clean, near the beach, and most importantly, the cheapest thing around. We’re staying in the dorm, which so far has been empty except for us. Score!
It’s still a little early for durian here, and durian is pricey. Durian vendors have estimated around 2 more weeks before prices will start to fall, so for now we’ll have to restrain ourselves. It’s not at all scarce – in fact we found Musang King being sold on the beach, only 100 meters from our hotel! We bought one yesterday in celebration. Looking out at the flat, calm ocean, the clean wide beach, and the bright yellow of our Musang King, I felt like we had arrived in paradise.
Later in the evening we headed downtown. We found one stall at the market selling durian, but then were directed to KK Plaza, a shopping mall bordering an entire street lined with durian stalls. Several had various durian species in addition to the zibethinus varieties. There were large neon yellow durians and tiny green balls with curved and twisted spikes. We bought one of each, although the price made Rob wince ($5 each). I do think we may have been ripped off.
Some Malaysian tourists visiting from the Peninsula were passing by as the durian was opened, revealing bright orange flesh. They went wild, pulling out camera phones and oohing. The orange flesh was impressive, but I really liked the tiny green durian (below) , which had white flesh and nearly no odor at all. It was really sweet. I can’t even guess what it was. The vendor called it all “Red durian,” even though none of it was red!
In the next week we’ll head to Sandakan, the village where all these durians are currently coming from. For the time being, we are doing more research, figuring out where to go, getting contacts, and writing more resource pages for this blog. Oh, and hanging out at the beach. Nice.